02 Feb 2015
Kerstine Appunn Ruby Russell

In the media: Cheap fossil fuels threaten energy transition in heating sector

© [Kmaassrock] - iStock

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“From nuclear proponent to power line opponent”

In 2008 Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer said that extending the run-time of Germany’s nuclear power stations was "indispensable" and in July 2014 he announced that the “free state of Bavaria does not want power lines”, Frank Müller writes in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Since Seehofer changed his mind on nuclear power, he will likely change it on the grid expansion, Müller says. If Bavaria’s energy minister announces this week that the supply gap caused by shutting down the states’ nuclear plants cannot be filled by boosting local gas-fired power plants and Bavaria therefore needs new grid connections to the North, Seehofer has announced that he will seek personal interviews with federal economy minister Sigmar Gabriel and Chancellor Angela Merkel to ensure  Bavaria gets it all: the nuclear phase-out, a viable gas-power industry and a halt to plans for unwanted power lines and wind turbines.

See the CLEW dossier “The energy transition and Germany’s power grid” here.


Nordbayerische Nachrichten

“Thousands protest against the power line”

Citizens of the Bavarian town of Pegnitz near Nürnberg staged a demonstration against planned direct current power lines, attracting around 2,000 people who listened to several speakers explain why Bavaria doesn't need grid extensions to bring power from the northern and eastern Germany to the southern state. A member of the citizens’ initiative at Pegnitz said the alliance had already attracted 300,000 supporters.

See the article in German here.


Wirtschafts Woche / dpa

“Do not overestimate falling CO2 emissions in Germany”

Christian Growitsch, director of Hamburg's Weltwirtschaftsinstitut (HWWI) said it would be “dubious” to rate the falling CO2 emissions from Germany as a success of environmental policy. The decrease in emissions was largely due to mild winter temperatures and partially a result of gowing power production from renewables. But in the end, every tonne CO2 that Germany saved would be emitted by another European country, thanks to the European emissions trading scheme, Growitsch told the press agency dpa. Growitsch added that Germany’s emission reductions were meaningless set against increased pollution from China, which alone produces more CO2 than the EU and US combined.

Read the article in German here.

Read a Clean Energy Wire story on the drop in CO2 emissions here.



“Power prices slow down German computing centres”

Germany hosts a quarter of Europe’s server capacity but the market is growing faster elsewhere – comparatively high power costs in Germany are to blame, writes Malte Laub in the Handelsblatt.

Read the article in German here.  


Weser Kurier

"WeserWind insolvent"

Bremen-based renewable business WeserWind Offshore Construction has filed for bankruptcy, the Weser Kurier reported. Between 2011 and 2012 WeserWind employed up to 1,200 workers, but after playing a key role in the first phase of development of the offshore wind sector, the company (which mainly produces heavy steal construction) did not succeed in keeping business stable, the company's management said in a statement. The economy minister for the city state of Bremen Martin Günther said WeserWind’s insolvency should not be interpreted as sign of the future of the offshore wind power sector.

See the article in German here.


Rheinische Post

“E.ON goes to court over ending the prospects of Gorleben becoming a nuclear waste store”

With the German parliament closing a preliminary nuclear waste storage site in former salt mines at Gorleben, Lower Saxony, the search for final storage is on, says the Rheinische Post. But utility and nuclear power station operator E.ON is challenging the Gorleben closure, in a move the newspaper says is aimed at avoiding paying for that search. E.ON called the decision to close Gorleben “politically motivated only”.


Windkraft-Journal / AEE

“Cheap fossil fuels threaten to put the breaks on energy transition in the heating sector”

Low import prices for fossil fuels aren’t being passed on to consumers, according to an article in the Windkraft-Journal. The import price of gas fell by 13.8 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to the Federal Statistics Office, while the consumer price declined by just 0.1 percent. “However, the seemingly low current prices for fossil fuels risk putting efforts for the necessary energy transition of the heating sector in danger,” the director of the German Renewable Energies Agency (AEE) warns. Gas covers most of German households’ heating needs, which account for the bulk of their energy consumption. In 2013, renewable sources of heat – wood, solar heat and heat pumps – covered less than 12 percent of heat generation in private homes, the article says.

See the AEE press release in German here.


Frankfurter Rundschau

 “Dark clouds over the solar sector”

German solar firm SMA has been a world leader in the sector, but has been hit hard by cuts in renewable subsidies and competition from China and announced 1,300 German job cuts on 30 January, writes Frank-Thomas Wenzel for the Frankfurter Rundschau. Although managers in the solar sector ignored the international landscape of the industry, government policy has also played a role its decline, Wenzel says, with subsidies falling faster than costs.

See the article in German here.



“Can a country slash its CO2 emissions and avoid electricity price spikes at the same time?”

Writing for ClimateWire, Eric Marx says the transformation Germany’s electricity sector will be key to the success of the energy transition – either introducing capacity markets or tweaking the energy-only market to allow for price spikes at times of scarcity. While energy and economics minister Sigmar Gabriel appears to have ruled out the former, Marx says E.ON boss Johannes Teyssen may be right when he says that some form of capacity mechanism is inevitable - but it should support flexible and more efficient fossil fuel plants, such as combined heat and power, Marx writes.

See the article in English here.

See CLEW’s Factsheet on the future design of the German power market here.



“Want to Buy a Used German Power Plant? Shipping Is Included”

Germany’s biggest utilities, E.ON and RWE, are keen to sell their old power plants, writes Tino Andresen for Bloomberg. Rendered unprofitable by the German energy transition, fossil fuel-burning plants could be packed up and shipped to buyers abroad, particularly in the developing world. RWE has more than six gas-fired plants mothballed in Germany and the Netherlands, the article says.

See the article in English here.

See CLEW’s Factsheet on the German utilities and the Energiewende here.



“Germany to overtake UK in offshore wind race this year”

Germany looks set to be the world’s biggest installer of wind power in 2015, Jessica Shankleman writes. Europe’s wind energy capacity will increase to 10.9 gigawatts (GW) when projects currently under construction are completed, according to a report by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) published on 30 January. Germany has the largest share of the additional 2.9 GW, the article says.  

See the article in English here.

See the EWEA report in English here.

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Kerstine Appunn

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